It’s been widely reported that Donald Trump won the bid to redevelop the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue. He plans to renovate the historic building and construct a luxury Trump International Hotel with 260 suites and penthouses, plus a spa, shops, and restaurants. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Trump wrote, “One of the most important responsibilities and goals that I have as a developer and business operator is to create tens of thousands of jobs and bring beauty and life to key cities around the world.” He said the Post Office project would create 500 construction jobs and 500 hotel jobs.
We caught up with him today to talk more about the Post Office, what he loves about the area, and whether he would consider creating a Washington season of his hit NBC show, The Apprentice.
Washington is intensely curious about you now, but as a developer rather than as a politician. Do you feel an obligation to get to know the local city, apart from the official city?
Yes. We’ve spoken with the mayor. We’ve spoken to many members of the City Council. They know we’re going to do such a beautiful job.
Do you have a favorite part of the Post Office Building?
The tower itself, and the atrium is one of the underutilized spaces. We will do something special with the atrium, bringing it back to its original grandeur.
Life isn’t getting any better for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who once upon a time hoped to be the next president of France. He continues to be at the center of sex scandals, including reports of “swingers” parties with prostitutes in Paris and at Washington’s W Hotel. This week he was jailed for 32 hours in Lille, France, as part of an investigation into a prostitution ring. He was released Wednesday but will likely have to go before a French magistrate again on March 28. Here in the US, a March 15 court date has been set in New York for the civil lawsuit filed by a housekeeper who accused him of raping her last May at the Sofitel hotel. He was held under house arrest in New York until July, when he was released in advance of the prosecutor dropping charges, which happened in August.
We tried to find out what went on here in Washington, but the W Hotel would not comment. We asked a spokesperson at the French Embassy, who responded, “To be completely honest, I’m not really in a mood to enter into this topic.” We also put in a call to DSK’s criminal lawyer, William W. Taylor III, who is with the DC-based firm Zuckerman Spaeder. He, too, told us, "No comment." We contacted a close personal friend of Strauss-Kahn and his wife, Anne Sinclair, who had dined with them on a number of occasions. The response? “Definitely out of that loop. We had absolutely no idea. The whole thing is tragic on every level.”
Though the exact cause of Whitney Houston’s death may not be known for several weeks, there has been speculation about the cause being an overdose of prescription drugs. In a number of interviews, the Grammy-winning singer was candid about past abuse of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, and her stints in rehab. Some reports say prescription bottles of opioids were found in the Beverly Hills hotel suite where she died.
While celebrities get the attention for their drug and alcohol addictions, most rehab centers are filled with people who don’t get chased down the street by TMZ, who lead lives that aren’t routinely chronicled in tabloids. They have jobs and families, or are teenagers, and can’t afford the time or money to check into a rehab facility for three weeks of inpatient treatment. For these patients, there are places like the Kolmac Clinic, which serves as one of the Washington area’s leading outpatient rehab centers. It was founded in 1973 by Dr. George Kolodner and Jim McMahon with a concentrated focus on outpatient programs. Kolmac has treatment centers in downtown Washington, as well as in Towson, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Columbia, and Baltimore. Kolodner, Kolmac’s medical director, is a medical psychiatrist who specializes in addictions. He is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, where he oversees the teaching on addictions.
Albrecht Muth, charged with the August murder of his wife, Viola Drath, has for the moment ended his “fast,” or hunger strike, but today DC Superior Court judge Russell Canan ordered that he be transferred to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for a full competency evaluation. It could take as long as a month.
Muth, still hospitalized at United Medical Center, was represented at the morning hearing by his public defenders, Dana Page and Craig Hickein. Also speaking about his status was Maria Amato of the Department of Corrections, who said he was “currently not at risk because he has resumed eating,” and Dr. Nader Marzban, who had seen Muth as early as today before the hearing.
Marzban said United Medical Center had 16 people evaluate Muth, including three psychiatrists. “They think he has psychosis,” he said. “When I saw him yesterday, he was delusional. He sees the archangel Gabriel, and he talks with the archangel Gabriel.” Marzban quoted Muth as saying it was Gabriel who directed him to begin the fast he started in November and which caused his hospitalization due to dehydration and other medical issues. Last week his condition was described as bordering on grave.
One of this week's posters thinks he met his one true love at Chipotle. Photograph by Adam Morcom.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week, we offer up another selection of “missed connections” from Craigslist. There are so many to choose from, it leaves one wondering if Washington needs a new industry: matchmakers. There could be a fortune in that. (All ads are published as they appear, emoticons and all.)
You were sitting at the table over from me. We were both eating alone and I felt we had something in commmon. I was going to talk to you but then I talked myself out of it. A true missed connection! Anyways, I thought by some miracle of a chance you would be checking CL.
Saw you a couple weeks ago, and trying this one last time...
The way you looked at me, and the way you talked to me... was there something there?
I know you are married, but it seemed like you kept wanting to get away from her...
Email me if you think you know who this is.
Update(2/7/2012): Now it can be confirmed: Donald Trump will get his name on Pennsylvania Avenue, after all. It won’t be at the White House, but at the Old Post Office building, which is almost equidistant from the Capitol and the executive mansion. Today the Government Services Administration chose the Trump organization’s bid to transform the historic building into a mixed-use facility with a Trump luxury hotel, restaurants, and more.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was the family member who handled the negotiations and worked with architect Arthur Cotton Moore. Here’s the story we reported recently:
A year after Donald Trump tried to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, it appears he might end up on the street, after all.
Arthur Cotton Moore is the Washington architect who did the last redesign of the Old Post Office Building in the 1980s. The General Services Administration is currently taking proposals for a new redevelopment of the late-19th-century building that looms over Pennsylvania Avenue. Overheard at lunch was Moore saying he’s been hired by the Trump Organization to handle its design and bid, and that a decision from GSA is expected in the next few weeks.
So we had to know: Does this mean that if the Trump Organization wins the bidding, Donald Trump’s name (which he likes to slap on everything) will be on the building? Moore smiled and nodded. “Yes, but it will be small.” He said the Trump proposal calls for ground-level retail and a luxury Trump International hotel.
Moore also said that for this project he’s been working with Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald and Ivana, who he referred to as “beautiful, delightful and capable.”
We called Ivanka Trump’s office, but have not heard back. A GSA spokesman would say only that a decision is expected “in early 2012.”
Paul Vodra. Photograph by Erik Ueke.
Paul Vodra is a band geek. A Washington-band geek.
Vodra grew up in Falls Church playing drums and has always been in bands. He has DJ’d, both on the radio and in local clubs, as P.Vo, what he calls his “JLo name.” Now he has launched an Internet radio station dedicated to music from the area, called Hometown Sounds (hometownsoundsdc.com). The project grew out of a 2009 DJ gig Vodra had at DC’s Argonaut at which he played only local music.
We talked to him about what makes Washington rock.
Recently we ran a Q&A with Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, about her family’s uniform objections to the proposed Frank Gehry design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Presidential Memorial, which is to be built adjacent to the Mall and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education. Eisenhower compared the design to a “theme park” and said the family objected to it on many fronts, including whether it was environmentally sustainable. Also, she said, it “has its back” to the education department, and her grandfather “didn’t have his back to Lyndon Johnson.”
In response to that post, we heard from Daniel J. Feil, who has served as executive architect for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission for the past six years. He said the Susan Eisenhower interview had “an ill effect,” and that the Commission’s point of view should be heard, too. Here is our conversation:
Photograph by Flickr user tiffa130.
The HGTV reality show All-American Handyman, going into its third season, will for the first time hold an open casting call, and Washington is one of six cities where casting agents plan to do auditions. Women should not be put off by the title—female contestants are wanted, too. Imagine Project Runway for the Home Depot crowd: Cast members compete with one another and face elimination; the goal is to be the last handyman standing, hammer in hand.
Are the days of quietly announcing one’s pregnancy a thing of the past? Beyoncé revealed hers to the masses in August on the red carpet and then the stage of the MTV Music Video Awards. This week, Washingtonian Susanna Quinn announced her pregnancy on Facebook, with a photo and this simple message: “Jack Quinn and I have some news.” Very soon after, she had 91 “likes” and 82 comments.
Why did she choose Facebook? “I guess, honestly, because my friends and family—I mean, every one—are on Facebook. It was a fast way to spread the happy news,” she says. Also, the other night someone said to me that I didn’t look pregnant, only like I’d been eating too much over the holidays. I didn’t want people to think I was just getting fat.”
Susanna and her Jack—who is the cofounder and chairman of lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates, and served as White House counsel during the Clinton administration—are a well-known couple on the Washington social and benefit circuit.
They may have to cut back a little on the out-and-about now. Susanna, who is 42 years old, says in the first few months of the pregnancy, she “could have fallen asleep standing up.” Now she’s back to power walking and working out. The baby is due in June. Susanna has one child, age 12, from a previous marriage; Jack, who is 62, has four, the oldest of whom is 38.